WOMAN'S LIFE 14.1
coarseness than from the disqualification to vote. When men are naturally reasonable and good-tempered and considerate, women do not suffer. Besides, women have always the weapon of sex, which they can use to great advantage. It is nature's guarantee for their equality. Somehow every man3 from emperor to butcher, baker and candlestick-maker, has scolded his wife and been scolded by her, because nature has ordained that man and woman should meet in their intimacies as equals. Certain fundamental relations, like that between husband and wife, differ much less in the different countries than one would imagine from travellers5 descriptions. Westerners are apt to imagine Chinese wives as mute slaves of their husbands, although actually Chinese husbands, on the average, are fairly reasonable and considerate beings; while Chinese are apt to think that, because the Westerners have never heard of Confucius, therefore Western wives don't look after their husbands' laundry and stomachs, but simply go to the beach inpyjama suits or live in a continuous round of dancing-parties. The unique and the exotic make such interesting after-dinner stories, while the central and common truths of humanity are forgotten.
In real life, then, women have not really been oppressed by men. Many men who marry concubines and make cats' nests of their homes and dodge from one woman's chamber to another are the real sufferers. There is, moreover, that curious sexual attraction which makes it impossible for relatives of any degree, of different sex, to dislike each other strongly. Women, therefore, are not oppressed by their husbands or by their fathers-in-law, nor can sisters-in-law oppress one another, since they are of equal rank, although they never like each other. The only remaining possibility is that daughters-in-law may be oppressed by the mothers-in-law and this is often what actually happens. The life of the daughter-in-law in a big Chinese family with its manifold responsibilities is often a very hard one. For it must be remembered that a marriage in China is not an individual affair but a family affair; a man does not marry a wife but "marries a daughter-in-law/* as the idiomatic expression goes, and when a son is born, the idiomatic expression is "a grandson has been bam/* A